Life Expectancy When You’re Living With Cystic Fibrosis

Life with cystic fibrosis can be challenging. Following diagnosis, patients need to spend hours each day undergoing chest physiotherapy to help clear their lungs of excess mucus — an important element in their ongoing treatment critical to preventing lung infections.

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As well chest physiotherapy, those with cystic fibrosis may need to take enzymes with each meal to help them digest their food and absorb all the nutrients.

Children with cystic fibrosis tend to remain fairly healthy if they take their medications and look after themselves. However, in adulthood lung function begins to decline and health begins to deteriorate.

Each person with cystic fibrosis is different, so the severity of the disease will vary from person to person. Patients are advised to stay as active as possible to improve lung function and overall health. Because cystic fibrosis affects the pancreas and its ability to produce digestive enzymes, many people with CF will need to eat extra calories in order to stay nourished. Find out more about living with cystic fibrosis.

Cleanliness is also an issue for those living with cystic fibrosis. In order to avoid infections, patients must be vigilant about hand-washing and wary of shared items and surfaces to avoid germs.

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As patients age, they are more likely to experience complications of the disease. Lower lung function can often lead to infections which may require hospital treatment. Damage to the airways can cause other lung diseases such as bronchiectasis. Patients may also require oxygen therapy.

Having cystic fibrosis is no barrier to sexual relationships, but males with the condition are usually infertile and many women have problems conceiving. However, fertility treatment is often a successful solution.

The average life expectancy of a person with cystic fibrosis in the U.S. is approximately 37.5 years with many living much longer. However, this figure is constantly increasing as researchers discover new treatments and medications. In 1962, the average life expectancy of a child with cystic fibrosis was just 10 years old. It’s now predicted that children born with cystic fibrosis in the 2000s will survive into their 50s (source: verywell.com).

MORE: CF Awareness Month: What to know about germs and cystic fibrosis. 

Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

14 comments

  1. Donna says:

    i have chronic asthma, i have a nebuiser for and relaver inhaler, recently following a pre op for something else was told my chest was too ba to operate, i said its just my asthma playing up, i was told that this wasnt asthma and referred to chest specialist, who recently did test i have bronciectasis and obstructive sleep apnea now sleep with a cpap machine. I was told today that one test done not just sputum, but one of the bloods can take longer to come back, im assuming this will be the cyctic fybrosis one ?. please advise me, my nerves are so gone.

  2. Kevin thomas says:

    if anyone has CF just lead a normal life and dont worry over it. but make sure you use Llandough Hospital in Cardiff as they are the best in the country in looking after people with this illnes, I have CF and Im now 44 years, thanks to my family and my wife but the CF team at Llandough, are bloody brilliant they accomodate you rather than the other way round, and they even have a ward soley for patients with CF. I used to live in west Wales and travel there every 3 months even though it is about 104 miles to travel. for more info please contact Dr Ketchell 02920711711. Ive been going here since I was 13 years and I was diagnosed at 4 my sister was 8 now passed away at 24 in 1994.

  3. Simon says:

    I’m 17, my 8 year old cousin suffers from cystic fibrosis but she shows very little to no symptoms. Still, I’m always afraid she’ll go before me.

  4. Tiggy says:

    I have Cystic Fibrosis. I was diagnosed at 18 months old. I’m now 13. The doctors took a year of examining me to figure out it was CF. I was being sick after being fed, I would cough up mucus every 5 minutes. The doctors thought it was a cold.

  5. kelly says:

    not the best thing to tell someone, lick your arm and if you have had extra salt in your diet and can taste salty sweat you may have a life limiting illness?? i have just done this, mine tastes salty and due to having two cousins with the illness (one passed almost ten years ago) i was tested at birth and do not even carry the mutated gene. leave diagnosing to the specialists i would suggest.

    • John G Adderley says:

      Actually a sweat test is a test they did to diagnose in the past. I was at birth in OZ in 82 and they did sweat tests.

  6. Lachlan Reade says:

    I have Cystic Fibrosis and I always have to take enzymes and other pills before I eat and do special lung treatments in the morning and at night through a nebulizer. I breathe in multiple kinds of gaseous medication such as Hyper tonic Saline, Pulmozyme, and Toby. When I was 8 I had to go into the hospital for 14 days for IVs which is when they had to cut into my arm and shove a tube up my arm into my chest to pump in a certain medication to help me with a deadly staff infection I had. 14 days later, I was back to my regular self, and I haven’t had to get IVs since.

  7. Rose says:

    I am 15 years old nearly 16 and over the past year I have been looking to get in touch with people who are suffering with CF, I have tried looking on various websites but came up with nothing this has been the best I’ve found so far, believe it or not. So If anyone has any good recommendations I would be really grateful. Thank you.

    • Laura says:

      Hello. You can watch Frey life on YouTube. Mary is a young lady living with the disease. If you reach out to her she may respond .

  8. Clifford Brock says:

    I am 53 and getting ready to turn 54. I was born 3 months early, and I was diagnosed at 6 months with CF. My doctor told my mother once as we sat in the doctor’s office, “The boy isn’t going to live to see 8. Let him eat what he wants, and let him do what he can.”

    I was sure I was dead the day I turned 8. As you can see, I wasn’t. But, “let him do what he can do” is how I have lived my life. I have been skydiving, rode a wake board every summer until I was 40. I hiked all over southern Arizona. I was just me. Doing my thing. I was able to drink at 18 (the legal drinking age in AZ at the time). I stopped drinking at 21. I smoked one cigarette when I was 16 or so (a Salem menthol). I thought I was being stupid. I have never done drugs other than what was prescribed for me.

    At 40, the lung doc who had taken care of me for years told me he didn’t know what else to do for me and I should find someone more knowledgeable about CF. So, off to the CF center I went.

    And now, I am stopped every time I go to the CF clinic and I am asked the same three questions. Not in the same order each time, but always the same three questions:

    1) Do you have CF?
    2) How old are you?
    3) What do you do to get that old?

    I will share my thoughts on this disease and how I have handled it. I hope that each person with CF (or parent of someone with CF) who reads this might think about how they are living (or the messages hey are giving their CF child). I’m not saying how you live now is wrong, or how you could be better; and I know that CF effects each of us differently. But, I would say to you, LIVE life to the fullest, live each day like it could be your last. Live it, love it, and love those around you. And, never, EVER give up. Do one more sit up, take one more step without that wheelchair. Fight for each breath. Never give in, never quit.

  9. Ric says:

    My friend with CF just turned 39 today. It hit me again lately how precious our time with her is. She’s been lucky enough to have 2 children, and she is just a wonderful person. I hope she has many years left.

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